Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited

Kuumbwa Jazz Presents

Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited

Fri · July 14, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

$25.00 - $30.00

Thomas Mapfumo, dubbed 'The Lion of Zimbabwe,' has used his musical talents to advocate for civil rights in his home country since joining his first band in 1973. His style of music—chimurenga—a blend of traditional mbira music, highlife, and reggae—soon became associated with the political struggle in Zimbabwe. In 1978, feeling the need to follow his own artistic vision, Mapfumo formed a new band: Blacks Unlimited. Although his songs were vigorously repressed by the colonial authorities at the time, Mapfumo persisted in protest through his recordings and performances even after Zimbabwe won its independence in 1980. Today, living in exile, he continues to use his voice to speak out against government corruption around the world.

**Dance space! **

Thomas Mapfumo
Thomas Mapfumo
Born in 1945 in Marondera, Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe. He began his musical career playing covers of American rock and soul music before joining Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, where he began adapting traditional music of the Shona to modern instrumentation and techniques. This process included transcribing the scales and sounds of the mbira to electric guitar.

He invented and popularized Chimurenga music - literally "struggle" in Shona - which was often overtly political. In addition to his modern incarnation of traditional music, his lyrics were sung in Shona. In the late 1970s singing in Shona instead of English was a political statement in and of itself. In Mapfumo's case, it was specifically critical of the white ruling class of Rhodesia. The government, underestimating his popularity, eventually banned his records and imprisoned Mapfumo without charges in 1979. After a series of large protests demanding his release, he was set free three months later.

Though he initially celebrated the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, he became increasingly disillusioned with the regime of Robert Mugabe. This was, again, reflected in the music he produced throughout the 1980s; mostly as Thomas Mapfumo And The Blacks Unlimited. His lyrics often addressed issues of poverty and social development. After a campaign of government-sponsored harassment, he emigrated to the United States, where he continues to live.
Venue Information:
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
320-2 Cedar Street
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060